SRU students learn from top security experts during trip to Washington, D.C.


Students at SIGAR

Sixteen students from Slippery Rock University traveled to the Washington, D.C. area, March 11-15, to meet with security management professionals, from the private and government sectors, including Pete Murphy, special agent at Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

April 4, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Students at Slippery Rock University don't wait for knowledge to come to them, they go looking for it. While the Criminology and Security Studies Department offers pertinent classes and hosts expert speakers on campus, experiences like a faculty-led program to Washington, D.C., March 11-15, is an example of students' desire to seek out professionals and learn from their real-world environments.

Sixteen SRU students, mostly from the Security Studies Club at SRU, a student organization geared for cybersecurity, corporate security and homeland security majors, met with officials from government agencies and private security, as well as other experts in security, fraud and loss prevention.

"It's important that we expose the students not only to new learning in the classroom and by bringing speakers to the University, but that we also go to the professionals and meet them in their environment," said Susan Lubinski, associate professor of criminology and security studies, who led the spring break program. "I called all these people and they all graciously agreed to meet with our students and it worked out like a gem. They rolled out the carpet for us."

The group met with Pete Murphy, special agent at Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a government agency that oversees the rebuilding of Afghanistan by detecting and deterring fraud, waste and abuse of U.S.-funded programs by conducting independent, objective and strategic audits, inspections and investigations.

Susan Lubinski


"The students learned that there's always an aftermath to military operations and we have a humanitarian obligation to go back in and rebuild and assist the people in restoring what was destroyed," Lubinski said. "But people are corrupt and we have a fiduciary duty to watch taxpayer money and how government contacts are being used."

The students also met with Dave Hunt, a certified protection professional and principal of Homeland Security Consulting, a risk management, emergency planning and preparedness solutions company that works with businesses, hospitals, government agencies and other organizations. Hunt is an expert in training workers and helping companies prepare for workplace violence.

Hunt met with the group at the international headquarters for the American Society for Industrial Security, an Alexandria, Virginia-based association for more than 35,000 security management professionals worldwide. While there, the SRU contingent also met with ASIS representatives about the benefits of ASIS certifications and career opportunities in the security management field.

Lastly, the group met with Jack Smith, a lecturer at George Washington University Law School. Smith, a certified anti-money laundering specialist who was a lawyer for several government agencies, spoke about fraud detection and combating corruption to alleviate poverty, terrorism and many other global issues.

In addition to sightseeing in Washington, D.C., where the SRU students observed security measures taken at monuments, museums and other government buildings, the students sought additional experiences and knowledge not on the program's agenda. For example, four military students, including Derrick Kettering, a senior dual major in homeland security and interdisciplinary programs from Fleming, Ohio, used their military identification to access reserved seating at a public briefing about the conflict in Syria hosted at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The keynote speaker at the program, titled "Syria: Is the Worst Yet to Come?," was Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the soon-to-be former National Security Advisor. The event marked the seventh anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict and the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

"We walked in not really knowing what we were getting into or who we would meet," said Kettering, a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves. "We left with a better understanding of the current state of Syria and how the genocide is affecting the world. We also left having rubbed elbows with members of the White House Press Secretary staff, members of the National Security Agency, Department of Defense and even those working in the private sector. It was by chance this happened, but it would not have been possible if not for taking this trip."

"They did that on their own," Lubinski added. "They have a willingness to be exposed to new ideas and experiences outside the University. Taking those opportunities to learn are phenomenal. We're just not a department where you go to class. We are somewhere where students get rich on experiences."

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